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Queensboro exhibit showcases Japanese-inspired work

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The evocation resonates through the 20 pieces in her exhibit "Echo Sonata," based on a classical Japanese artist who was in turn influenced by ancient Asian culture. Currently on display at Queensborough Community College's Art Gallery, "Echo Sonata" is a series of Engelman's canvas and paper paintings that were inspired by the work of 17th century poet and artist Hon Ami Koetsu."He was called the Da Vinci of Japan," Engelman said of Koetsu's many talents, which ranged from knowledge of ancient Japanese poetry to expert pottery making to his founding of a legendary artists colony.Koetsu was moved by the artistic heritage of ancient Japan and China, employing much of the same classical poetics and themes from those eras in his own works, Engelman said."He looked to the past as a symbol of excellence, for inspiration," she said. Engelman first became enthralled by Japanese art as a graduate student at the University of Rochester, thanks to a professor who introduced her to the pure lines and beauty of calligraphy. Engelman keeps her studio in Midtown Manhattan and travels to Japan frequently. Her work has been shown throughout the country, and "Echo Sonata" will be at the Queensborough gallery through March 31. "In Rosalyn A. Engelman's opus, poetry is allowed to become once again what it once was--the teacher of humankind," said art gallery director Faustino Quintilla in the exhibit's catalogue.Some of Engelman's boldest pieces are inspired by Koetsu's poetry based on No libretto, which is ancient Japanese poetry.One painting evokes the sorrow of a former empress gazing after a departing figure. Entitled "No Libretto - The Imperial Visit to Ohara," Engelman uses traces of gold as a sly reference to royalty and to impart a melancholic autumnal atmosphere.And like an echo, the paintings seem to stay in motion. Adding to the effect of moving perspective, elements of shimmery gold, silver and iridescent paint lend an impression of an amorpheus, fluid composition that changes as the viewer shifts position in relation to Engelman's pieces."An echo travels over time and space to land somewhere, and go into the future to come back to the present," she said. "As Koetsu looked into the past and made it his present, so I look to Koetsu and make it my present."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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